Edge patterns in aquatic invertebrates explained by predictive models
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Predictive frameworks for understanding and describing how animals respond to habitat fragmentation, particularly across edges, have been largely restricted to terrestrial systems. Abundances of zooplankton and meiofauna were measured across seagrass-sand edges and the patterns compared with predictive models of edge effects. Artificial seagrass patches were placed on bare sand, and zooplankton and meiofauna were sampled with tube traps at five positions (from patch edges: 12, 60 and 130 cm into seagrass; and 12 and 60 cm onto sand). Position effects consisted of the following three general patterns: (1) increases in abundance around the seagrass-sand edge (total abundance and cumaceans); (2) declining abundance from seagrass onto sand (calanoid copepods, harpacticoid copepods and amphipods); and (3) increasing abundance from seagrass onto sand (crustacean nauplii and bivalve larvae). The first two patterns are consistent with resource-distribution models, either as higher resources at the confluence of adjacent habitats or supplementation of resources from high-quality to low-quality habitat. The third pattern is consistent with reductions in zooplankton abundance as a consequence of predation or attenuation of currents by seagrass. The results show that predictive models of edge effects can apply to aquatic animals and that edges are important in structuring zooplankton and meiofauna assemblages in seagrass.
Marine & Freshwater Research
Ecology not elsewhere classified